THERE was the added bonus of getting to eat the sushi being created at Japanese chef Makiko Sano’s Inverness Book Festival session on Wednesday.
The Japanese diet is one of the healthiest in the world – and Makiko’s book Sushi Slim is full of recipes and suggestions for menus that help you keep svelte but satisfied.
But the food we sampled in the tasting session once the sushi was prepared – and served to us complete with Japanese chopsticks, tiny bowls of sauce, wasabi and shredded ginger – didn’t seem any kind of sacrifice. Far from it.
After a quick introduction, Makiko found two volunteers from the group to demonstrate how easy it was to put together three different kinds of sushi.
Simplest was the Hosomaki roll – the most familiar kind to most people with the black seaweed on the outside holding rice with a piece of fish or vegetable at the centre.
And for anyone who has ever tried creating the rolls with a straw mat – and knows how difficult it can be to stop the whole thing falling apart as you go – Makiko had the first of many tips.
Another included cutting the sushi roll with a wet knife.
Correct measures of everything were crucial - so hosomaki needed a lump of rice the size of a hen's egg in both hands. Precise amounts of rice to water were also needed to create the right fluffiness for a good texture, she told us.
But Makiko’s dry sense of humour kicked in as she pointed out rice had to cook without EVER lifting the pan lid.
In her experience, there was usually one common culprit, she laughed.
"It’s mostly males who tend to open the lid – make sure he is away when you are making the rice. Or get a glass lid!"
Sushi Slim by Makiko Sano (Quadrille, £12.99). A full list of Inverness Book Festival events is here online too.
The festival is sponsored by Inverness Courier.